For the last several years, there has been a growing recognition of the unique vulnerabilities faced by non-citizens in nations convulsed by civil war, natural and man-made disasters and other crises, as well as the challenges faced by the international refugee project system and individual nations to identify and safeguard persons in these situations. Over the last three weeks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the violent conflict in Yemen has resulted in 549 deaths and 1,707 injuries. Exacerbating this tragedy has been the killing of health care workers and the blocking of humanitarian aid.
Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest who directs Agenzia Habeshia and who works extensively with North African refugees, writes of the crisis that has encircled Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somali refugees in Yemen. He urges the evacuation of these desperate refugees and other foreign-born persons:
“For many months, [there have been] about 4,200 Eritreans and Ethiopians, Somalis and about 5,000 registered under the responsibility of the [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)], which today are abandoned in the city of Sana’a. And [there are] other tens of thousands of refugees [who] are at the mercy of criminals who are robbing, mistreating, prevent[ing] [them] from doing anything — if they go out of the house, [they] never return. [They] [d]isappear into thin air in the city of Sana’a. [T]he refugees are being targeted by armed men who kidnap in order to get him to fight, in a fratricidal war …. All countries are evacuating their citizens, but the only ones left to themselves are the asylum seekers [and] refugees. We already have cases of people killed by stray bullets and cluster bombs, many people of the Christian faith made to disappear by armed men, many others who have become victims of torture especially those of Christian faith in Yemeni prisons. The militias vying today [in] the city of Sana’a, are responsible for several crimes against dozens of refugees who have been stripped naked, rob[bed] and tortured. We appeal to the international community to provide a plan to evacuate these refugees and displaced interpolated today in Yemen.”